Scottish English

Mark Crispin MRC at CAC.Washington.EDU
Thu Oct 20 23:28:23 CEST 2005

Thank you, John, for a very reasoned answer.  My comments are below:

On Thu, 20 Oct 2005, John.Cowan wrote:
> Note that ISO doesn't have an independent opinion: it tracks UNSD exactly.
> UNSD does make final determinations, but it is very strongly influenced
> by the recommendations of the various governments around the world.

Hence "it doesn't have to make sense, it's political."

> Australia and Canada
> share a head of state (Queen Elizabeth II), but by most other criteria
> are independent.

It depends upon what timeframe.  When the UK declared war on Nazi Germany 
in 1939, Canada and Australia were automatically brought into it; and when 
the US built the Alaska Highway and Canol Road in Canada, the agreements 
were made with the UK.  The Canadian government was told after the fact.

IIRC, this was the motivation behind the national and governmental changes 
that Canada made in the 1960s (including a new flag): to assert that 
Canada is an independent nation and no longer subject to the UK's whims 
(and wars).

> Jersey and Guernsey share the same head of state,
> but the U.K. is responsible for their defense and foreign affairs, while
> their local governments are sovereign in all other respects (they do
> not come under the U.K. parliament).

This reminds me of the bad old days when the USSR had IIRC *three* seats 
in the UN.

> Taiwan is part of China (both the
> Taiwanese "authorities" and the Chinese government agree on this)

I don't think that the current government of Taiwan agrees.  Certainly the 
current majority party says otherwise, even if they have not officially 
changed the policy of the country.

>> Given these examples, I don't understand why "continental US" isn't a
>> country; nor do I understand why each of the original thirteen colonies,
>> Texas, and Hawaii aren't countries; nor why Tibet, Kurdistan, Basque,
>> Chechnya, Okinawa, Normandy, etc. aren't countries; etc. ad nauseum.
> They could be if the various national governments wanted it to be so.

Hence my observation that it's really about power.  Some (not all) of the 
above-named entities were seized by force by the very national governments 
that get to decide.

> it's just about the fact that
> the problem is inherently vague, and eventually "the line must be drawn here".
> We might as well draw it where (almost) everyone else does.

That's the issue.  I don't think it's where "everyone else" (or even 
"almost everyone else") draws the line; it's where whomever has the most 
power draws the line.  All too often, that line is capricious.

To the extent that the current lines are convenient for us and less-costly 
than us getting into the line-drawing business, we should not fix what 
isn't broken.

-- Mark --
Science does not emerge from voting, party politics, or public debate.
Si vis pacem, para bellum.

More information about the Ietf-languages mailing list